Mac App Store = Death of current Web store

In an effort to get users to start using Apple’s brand spanking new Mac App Store when it launches next month, the company will completely shut down its existing Web-based digital download store.

The Mac App Store aims to make downloading computer software as easy as it is to download apps to the iPhone and iPad. It will serve as a visually pleasing, centralized hub for all officially licensed Mac programs. Developers will have to opt-in to the service, but those who already use Apple’s “Downloads” service can make the transition fairly easily.

Nevertheless, some developers no doubt got a bit shaken when they saw a mass e-mail from Apple saying the Web-based Downloads service will be shut down instantly on January 6. That’s the same day as the scheduled launch of the Mac App Store.

“Because we believe the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download apps, we will no longer offer apps on the Mac OS X Downloads site. Instead, beginning January 6, we will be directing users to explore the range of apps available on the Mac App Store,” wrote Apple in the e-mail.

Because the Mac App Store is a bit more restricted than the Web-based storefront that currently exists, a few developers may feel the squeeze, but Apple needs these developers to make the new platform thrive. So it’s dedicated to making everything shift with as few headaches as possible.

One of the biggest restrictions is, at least for now, the Mac App Store does not allow demo versions of software. There was never any such restriction on the online store. So it’ll be impossible for devs to easily let users do a test run of their products, which could be a problem for those who make expensive software or fully-featured games.

No existing apps will automatically be transferred to the Mac App Store. Every developer who wants to have a presence when the new digital storefront launches will have to submit new online paperwork to Apple no later than 8:00 PM Eastern Time on December 31. [[Apple]]